The Best 9 Routes From San Diego to San Francisco

Bobby Dyer
San Diego To San Francisco

Find the best San Diego to San Francisco Route For You

You are in California and trying to figure out the best way up the coast from San Diego to San Francisco. I have been there and am fortunate to have made multiple trips from various routes.

If you have the time, you definitely want to take the coast! The 101 up the California coast is the ultimate adventure offering rugged beaches and sleepy surfer towns. Plan to have some extra time to capture the full beauty and battle some potential traffic.


Driving Pacific Coast Highway From San Diego to San Franciso

Our favorite and top recommended is to do a multi-day road trip from San Diego to San Francisco. How long will this take? If you take the PCH along the coast, you are looking at 12-15 hours depending on how many times you stop. There are so many amazing little towns on the coast along the way that you must experience!


Race Up The 5

The most direct and fastest route on the road is to take I-5 through central California. If you only take a few quick stops for gas and snacks, you can make the trip in under 10 hours. Although this is the quickest route, we recommend slowing down and finding a more scenic route.


Riding A Bike From San Diego to San Franciso

If you have the time, hop on a bike and head up the coast. I have had many friends do this route and explore the coastline with the best perspective, by bike! You can find state parks to camp at and will have an amazing appreciation for the California coast after this ride.



Find a cheap flight from San Diego to San Francisco

Finding flights from San Diego to San Francisco is super easy. There are multiple flights each day between the two cities and you are looking at about a 1 hour and 15-minute ride. You should be able to get a one-way ticket for around $59.


Travel On A California Group Tour

If you love exploring with world travelers like we do, then consider joining us on our overnight adventure up the coast. At ITH Hostels, we offering shuttles between San Diego and San Francisco. If you book the tour, you will also receive a discount on lodging at International Travelers House on the days of your trip.

Take the Amtrak Train Along the Coast

California is known for having some beautiful trains. Buy your ticket and hop on the Amtrak train for a beautiful coastline ride. I have taken the train up and down California and highly recommend it. Be sure to find the bar-car for a cold drink and a great view of the coast.


Ride The Bus

If you need to find the cheapest way to travel between these two cities, check out the Flix Bus. If you book farthest enough in advance, you can pick up a ticket for $25.

Relax on a cruise

For the traveler with lots of time and plenty of cash, considering taking a cruise. The ride is beautiful and you will pass by Catalina and the Channel Islands.


The ultimate Adventure from San Diego to San Francisco

As a passionate sailor, I recommend looking for some options for sailing from San Diego to San Francisco. The weather is a huge factor with this option. I recommend sailing during the summer months while the Pacific Ocean seas are calm.

Have you taken some other routes from that you love? Please share in the comments and we would love to hear about your adventures!


Cofounder of ITH Hostels. I love traveling, hosting, gardening, golfing, fishing, and sailing.

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